KIF girls hoops heats up tonight

Both teams rely on their perimeter players, but what happens in the paint could decide the fates of all three teams, as the KIF girls basketball regular season finale heads to the Clem Gomes Gym tonight.

Kaua‘i looks to stay afloat this season and keep its championship hopes alive against Waimea, who could wrap up the KIF second-round title with a win.

However, if the Red Raiders are victorious tonight, it would put all three teams at 2-2 in the second round, forcing a couple of playoff games for the second round crown and if either Kaua‘i or Waimea comes out on top, then there would be a championship game with first round champion Kapa‘a.

Waimea coach Elton Montemayor knew it would be a dogfight this season, with all three teams in the hunt until the very end, which turned out to be a fact.

In the meantime, Dennis Aquino, who has coached the Red Raiders to two straight KIF titles, finds his squad in about the same predicament as last season.

Kaua‘i won last year’s second round title and then unseated first round champion Waimea for the KIF’s lone state berth.

Keys to victory

Kaua‘i: Reigning KIF player of the year, Rachel Taira, Ho‘onani Dennis, and Carie Inouye need to combine for at least 30 points. Defensively, the Red Raiders have to put the clamps down on both Moani Durant and Natalie Mata.

Waimea: The Menehune should take full advantage of their small advantage in the paint against Kaua‘i, with Cheri Kua, Aiko Grande, Anna Jacinto, and Tasha Acosta leading the way. Offensively, Waimea should count on at least 30 points between its two big guns, Durant and Mata.

X-Factors

For Waimea, Acosta seems to be the heart and soul of the young squad. Her aggressive play sometimes awakens the shy team.

Kaua‘i’s spark plug is none other than Tahnee Shigematsu, who plays much bigger than her 5’0” frame. Her take charge attitude seems to rub off on others.

• KIF girls basketball finale: Kaua‘i at Waimea. Game time is 5:30 p.m. for junior varsity, with varsity action beginning 20 minutes after the completion of the JV contest.

• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or kauaisports@kauaipubco.com.

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